Turnbull Represents Failed Political System

There’s a store in my home state of South Australia called Mr Bankrupt, which ran some quite memorable TV commercials when I was a kid, “selling out fast, it’s all gotta go!”

I haven’t seen the ads for a while, and I mean no insult to the store, but in many ways the catchy jingle reminds me of our Prime Minister – ‘justice for refugees, marriage equality, action on climate change… it’s all gotta go!’ Whatever the principle, it has to be junked so that Malcolm Turnbull can hold onto his job. He really is the Mr Bankrupt of Australian politics but while he might be selling out fast, voters turned out long ago.

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More Action Needed To Combat Homophobia In Schools And In Parliament

I was about 10 when I was first called a “fag” and a “poof”. At that time I wasn’t sure what that meant, but I knew it wasn’t a compliment. The names had a new sting when I realised that I was gay and even though I was in the closet for my teenage years, it seemed there was no fooling the kids in the school yard. The idea of coming out and being open about my sexuality filled me with dread.

There’s no doubt that Australia has changed a lot since I was at school. There are far more gay people in public life and popular culture and differences in sexuality are discussed much more openly. That’s a wonderful thing. But unfortunately homophobia is still alive and well in the school yard and, as demonstrated last week, in parliament.

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Malcolm in the Middle?

For more than a year the Coalition has held a seemingly unassailable lead in the opinion polls. But after a bruising few months of media gaffes, speculation about his university days and damaging outbursts from some high-profile supporters (Corey Bernadi and Alan Jones), Tony Abbott’s march to the Lodge is looking less like a sprint and more like a hurdle race.

While Abbott has continued his ‘Great Big Campaign Against Everything’, Malcolm Turnbull has been busy carving out an alternative vision for his party and the nation. It may well prove attractive to his colleagues if the tide continues to move Labor’s way in the opinion polls.

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Abbott’s Race Against Time

As the damning opinion polls continue to mount, many commentators are already writing the Prime Minister’s political obituary, but if history is anything to go by, the potential for the Leader of the Opposition to face a political execution of his own, should not be discounted.

This claim may seem fanciful when one considers the dominance of the party Mr Abbott leads in the opinion polls, but should he survive as Opposition Leader to the next election, he will be the exception to opposition politics in Australia, rather than the rule.

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Abbott’s Uncertain Legacy

he old refrain that ‘oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them’ is certainly true of the Abbott ascendancy.

The Opposition has not achieved its position of dominance in the polls by mapping out an alternate vision for the nation; rather, it has sought to tap into a thick vein of community resentment towards the Government.

This ‘small-target strategy’ has been a mainstay of oppositions from both sides of politics for decades, but whether it’s good for voters is another story.

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Unrivalled Blood Sport

It’s hard to think of a time when national politics has been more divisive, venomous and downright nasty. The latest focal point is the scandal engulfing former Labor and now crossbench MP Craig Thomson. This has dominated news coverage for weeks and threatens to derail the Government.

The media interest in the Thomson matter is understandable at one level – after all, in this finely balanced Parliament, the Government is just one seat away from oblivion – but the intensity of this interest and the saturation of coverage is symptomatic of a broader culture that is corroding our politics.

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The Holy Grail and Poisoned Chalice of Politics

The Senate is shaping up to be a key battleground of the next federal election. While most of the mainstream media have focused on the numbers in the House of Representatives, the Senate is equally as finely balanced and, if the polls are to be believed, there is the potential for the Coalition to win a majority in both houses of Parliament.

This prospect should alarm voters of all persuasions.

For Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s detractors, his Senate domination would represent a doomsday scenario, as his new government could move swiftly to dismantle the Labor agenda. The rescission of carbon pricing, the culmination of decades’ of debate, in particular would be a major blow for all those who advocate climate action.

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Demolition Man: The Cost of Sledgehammer Politics

Like all federal opposition leaders before him, Tony Abbott has a burning ambition to become prime minister. There is nothing unusual about this. His methods, however, are less rudimentary.

Through upping the tempo of national politics, Abbott has come within striking distance of realising his goal, but he has also fundamentally changed political discourse in Australia in a way that is dangerous for our democracy.

There is no question that Tony Abbott uses distinct language to sell his message. Subtle as a sledgehammer, he routinely derides Prime Minister Julia Gillard as a “liar”. Any misstep or failure of the Prime Minister, however big or small, is “the worst ever” or further evidence of “the Government’s incompetence”.

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